Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll charts her recovery from injury in HEALING GRACE. She writes:

Everyone knows how I’m voting; there is no one left to convince, and I am heartsick of politics. So before this election makes me mentally ill enough to be hired by the Democrats as a Trump Rally Disrupter, how about a welcome change of subject? Many of you were very kind in wishing me a speedy recovery in my first reference to a (choose one) minor injury or extreme tragedy depending on whether or not it happened to me or thee. Thought you might want an update.

To recap: In a bizarre dust-up with a sliding screen door – spoiler alert: I lost — I tore my rotator cuff, a cuff whose existence I was blissfully unaware of previously. Are there other important cuffs in the body? Is fisticuffs a thing? The blow also severely traumatized various muscles in my right shoulder area: the tricep (which was nothing to write home about before the accident, believe me), the bicep, the Deltoid, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, I think, and they seem even slower to heal. The initial bruise extended from my shoulder to my elbow and was in the shape of Saskatchewan.

I went to Physical Therapy for 12 sessions and have been doing the godawful, hideous exercises at home. In late, late middle age here, my recovery speed could accurately be called “glacial.” People in Physical Therapy must sit around all day asking, “What kind of awkward, unnatural movement can we have clients do that will hurt the most?” Of course, in Medical Speak there is no such thing as “pain,” only “discomfort,” or in the case of labor, a “contraction.”

There’s a wretched stretchy band that I have to extend across my chest that hurts no worse than an ice pick jammed into my shoulder blade. There are things you do with little 2-lb. weights. Five months ago, I would have spit on 2-lb. weights. Now I am proud. I have graduated from the totally-humiliating ONE-lb. weights. And even those I could only lift a few times!

ME! Who could hold a 1911 and shoot for half an hour after shooting my Walther PPQ 9 mm for an hour! ME! Who have been showing off my “guns” unsolicited, often to complete strangers, since about the age of 8. Ask anyone who knows me. I was always proud to be strong, “for a girl.” When I was a child, Mama and I routinely used to move the upright piano around the room in what Daddy called her “weekly fits” of rearranging the furniture.

However, the key to PT and any recovery from accident or illness, is not to focus on how far you have left to go, but on how far you’ve come. This is also true of diet, exercise, and most any attempt to learn something new, like a language or musical instrument.

Here is my progress in five months: when it first happened, though I could bathe after a fashion, I could not put deodorant under my left arm. I had to tell people, “Please sit on my right side, because it’s possible I could smell on that other side. It is 117 degrees out.” Now, I am fresh as a daisy on both sides especially since the temperature has plummeted to 97. Sit wherever you like.

When it first happened, I could not raise a glass. Drinking whiskey through a bendy-straw really destroys the whole whiskey vibe. Now I can sip slowly in a grown-up manner, no problem. Which has improved my poker playing no end. Also my disposition.

When it first happened, I could not stir scrambled eggs and had to go OUT for scrambled eggs and all comestibles except yogurt. And even that required someone to rip the lid off the yogurt for me or suppress laughter while watching me wrestle the lid off with my left hand. (What do yogurt makers think they have IN there? The Hope Diamond?) Now I COULD stir scrambled eggs if I cared to, but I still prefer to go out.

When it first happened, I could not lift a hanger with a shirt or dress on it all the way up to the closet rod. Today, in irrational exuberance, I arranged all my clothes by color according to the spectrum. Remember ROYGBIV from junior high school? You will when you see my closet, although I seem to have precious few garments in either Indigo or Violet. I don’t rightly know if I’ve ever discussed my Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies in this forum before. Maybe I was too busy alphabetizing my spices, inventorying all calibers of ammo, or making sure all my washcloths were folded exactly the same way to mention it.

I am no longer as weak as a kitten. Now I am at least as strong as a large, old, crabby tomcat. Yesterday, when my doctor tried to push my outstretched arm down, he couldn’t do it. So that’s a comfort, knowing I can keep busybodies from pushing my extended arm down in the highly-unlikely event I execute a spastic “Sieg, Heil” like Dr. Strangelove. (Who knows what wacky thing an irredeemable Jewish Trump voter might do when let out of her basket?)

Mostly, I am filled with gratitude. That it wasn’t worse. That I didn’t also fall down and break a hip. I am grateful for professional medical staff, including the PTs I kidded earlier, and for the amazing ability of the body to heal. The 18th Century French wit Voltaire said, “The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while Nature cures the disease.” Go, Nature! God, if you prefer, which I do.

And, as I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, I am grateful for perspective. Though more inconvenient even than painful, this injury has taught me to be very very impressed with those who fight through far worse events. Courage!


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